Onnellinen mies

While away skiing in the Alps, I read a Paasilinna novel the owners of my rental flat had kindly left there, Onnellinen Mies (The Happy Man). As most Paasilinna’s books,  this 1976 novel is not translated into English. This is one of his first novels, coming right after The Year of the Hare (which is briefly mentioned in the novel) and it is Paasilinna at his best! More homely and less picaresque than The Year of the Hare, it still bears the trademark of this writer: well-set characters, praise to engineering, entrepreneurship and individualism, tale-like atmosphere, polygamous relationships… The story is about a bridge engineer hired by a small town to replace an old bridge who is ostracised by the town for his free manners, who looses his job thanks to the town leaders and who gradually takes over the town by work, cunning and blackmail, relentlessly eliminating all his enemies. A mostly hillarious read (turned into a TV film a few years later).

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